The Gorge Waterway was contaminated this past summer from septic tanks that spilled into Esquimalt’s storm water drains. The Township is beginning to address its options for preventing sewage and storm water lines from co-mingling. News files

Fixing Esquimalt’s sewage, storm drain cross contamination could cost millions

Property owners and municipality expected to share costs of solution

An estimated 400 homes may have sanitary services connected to storm drains in Esquimalt, and that could mean a big bill for the municipality and its taxpayers.

The cost of separating the two systems is being estimated at between $3 million and $13 million.

Having dealt with contamination of the Gorge Waterway this summer, the Township is trying to pinpoint which homes have household sewage lines crossed with storm water mains.

Esquimalt council heard earlier this month that work is required to correct such instances, as well as determine where sewage lines have failed and where existing storm drains do not extend the entire length of the road, a situation that can see runoff from perimeter drains find its way into the sewage lines.

Based on the municipality’s smoke testing nearly 10 years ago – smoke-filled air blown through the sanitary sewer lines identifies leaks – 407 instances were found where sanitary services might be connected to storm drains. The recent staff report stated that it would take upwards of 20 years to fix all the connections if Township staff alone do the work; eight years if the work were contracted out.

During discussions, councillors indicated the cost would be split between the municipality and property owners, rather than either bearing the full financial burden.

RELATED: Gorge Creek contamination caused by septic tank dumping

Fixing connections on Gosper Crescent was given as an example, as staff investigated the area following the Gorge Waterway spill.

Four homes on the street were found to have cross connections or failing service lines, which would cost an estimated $104,000 to fix pipes on both public and private property. In a 75/25 split of the costs with the Township covering the larger amount, homeowners would pay around $5,000 each, or $10,000 per home in a 50/50 share model.

Coun. Lynda Hundleby was in favour of a cost-splitting model, but acknowledged that paying for it may be difficult for some residents.

“I feel for the homeowners on fixed incomes, or who have income where they’re just meeting their needs, and then to add this to it,” she said. “But I do feel that we need to fix the storm sewer issues, because they’re just going to keep coming back to us if we don’t.”

Coun. Meagan Brame said she would have a difficult time making residents pay a large portion of the cost, particularly when they may not be responsible for the problem.

“These should have been caught in inspection times,” she said. “Some of the lines don’t go far enough down the street. Again, not a resident’s fault.”

RELATED: Gorge Swim Fest cancelled due to sewage spill

Mayor Barb Desjardins said the Township should allocate the annual $55,000 contribution from the Capital Regional District for wastewater treatment to cover a portion of the bill.

Other scenarios were presented at significantly lower costs. Extending storm collection mains into cul-de-sacs and to homes where there is no existing storm water collection would cost $3 million, while fixing only the public portion of the pipes connected to the 400 homes would cost $2 million.

Updating the network would also reduce the amount of waste water sent to the sewage treatment plant, potentially lowering property owners’ land taxes and the CRD allotment in the long term, but at a significant up front expense.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

CRD sewageEsquimaltsewage spillsewage treatment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read